Sunday, July 16, 2006


An Off-Season Look at... The Columbus Blue Jackets

With two of my favourite players on the roster, Jaroslav Balastik and Gilbert Brule, the Columbus Blue Jackets are of some interest to me, despite the fact that they totally suck and blow chunks. After a few seasons in the league, the BJs have yet to sniff the playoffs and won't be close for some time. The complete late of direction and mismanagement of the club by GM Doug MacLean has lead the BJs into treading water. The BJs haven't drafted all that well outside of the first round, and their free agent signings have generally been terrible. Who would give Luke Richardson a multi-million multi-year deal? Only the BJs

How do they look so far heading into next season?

Not good. For the ~$35mil the Jackets are spending, they aren't getting a lot of bang for the buck.


The Dinner Jackets shouldn't have so many problems scoring goals next season with a forward corps that is actually pretty decent. You have the young Monster Nash together with playmaker David Excellent and overpaid, but still decent, ex-boyfriend of Anna Kournikova. Behind them, you have Jaroslav Balastik entering his sophomore year, newly acquired Fredrik Modin, future Calder winner Gilbert Brule, and Nik Zherdev, also a scoring star in the making. The forward corps has a bit of everything and lots of youth.

Unfortunately for the BJs, their defence is terrible and the goaltending isn't that far behind.

Now, I know Pascal Leclaire has talent and potential, and he just may explode next season, but it's still a risky proposition. Ty Conklin as a backup?? BJs fans better hope Fredrik Norrena, an excellent goalie from the Swedish Elitserien, takes the backup spot. (Norrena is 33, though, and not exactly in the prime age to be starting an NHL career)

As for the D, it's like putting a band-aid on a sewer pipe that just burst. There's lots of crap floating around and the BJs aren't going to stop teams from peppering their goalies with 40+ shots a night.

The Foote Soldier lost about 15 steps last year, and Cyclops Berard is about as much of a liability on defence as you'll ever see in the NHL. Rusty Klesla still has some serious issues with discipline and has yet to really match the potential we've been waiting for him to meet. What team playing Duvie Westcott every game is going to win many games? Anders Eriksson? Been there, done that, and didn't want to watch the sequel. Tomas Kloucek couldn't even make a weak Thrashers squad...

Who the hell names their kid Duvie?

Synopsis: The BJs will be fighting with the Blues and Chickenhawks for the basement suite. No team with a defence as bad as the Dinner Jackets is going to sniff the behinds of the teams fighting for the playoffs. At the very least, this team should score more often and get better goaltending than they have in the past. If Doug MacLean could secure some better defensemen and learn to pick up better players outside of the first round, the BJs could really start to build something. Until then, enjoy the lottery picks.

Klouček was just misused with the Thrashers. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Isn't Popperle (too tired for umlauts) also in the goalie mix? I swear they signed him up, and since the backup job seems to be a crapshoot, he probably has at least some shot.
Hey, it's Big Dan. I doubt Eriksson and Kloucek are going to play much on defense.

MacLean has been high on Aaron Johnson and Ole Kristian Tollefsen in his interviews. How do you feel about Norwegians?

Aaron Johnson had 8 points in 29 games (2004) and 8 points in 26 games (2006).

Hockey Futures= "With excellent vision, crisp passing and an ability to get his shots through from the point, Johnson’s best facet could very well be his quick transitional game"

Ole Kristian Tollefsen played five games last year.

Hockey Futures "A rough and tumble defenseman, loves the physical part of the sport and certainly loves to punish opposing forwards with strong hits."

I was surprised to see Duvie Westcott getting 28 points last year. Maybe he is a decent #6 guy?

Also, Klesla had a strong second half along with the rest of team.

If Leclaire gets hurt, they're in trouble. It could be like Atlanta rotating goalies last year.

That 32-year old Czech goalie Popperle was signed in 2005 and posted some good numbers over there.

I cringed at the Conklin signing after seeing what he did to the Oilers last year. Nice guy and all but...

If Norrena or Popperle proves to be a good veteran backup and if their defense is serviceable (big ifs)= the Jackets could finish ahead of the Blues/ Hawks/ Coyotes/ Avs/ Canucks.

Not likely but not completely unrealistic. I think it's their goal to at least be in the mix.
Pöpperle is 21, not 32!

I agree. Although if Klesla is on your 2nd pairing of dman there is hope for the future. At least the civil war crowd has that to look forward to.
vwI was surprised at the Erickson signing, we need better. I am also disappointed we let Suchy get away. Other than that I am optimistic about the team.

Your secret love for the entire Blue Jackets team is apparent in this post. Don't be afraid to wear you Blue Jackets jersey (sweater?) with pride this winter.

Duvie the third in a line of Duvie I'm pretty sure. Or maybe I just made that up.

I doubt Pöpperle will make the team as a backup, as he'll need a year or two of seasoning in the AHL. He's performed very well in Europe the past two seasons and is a very intriguing and unknown-to-most-people prospect.

LW Alexandre Picard may also be in the mix, although the BJs seem to be OK on the left side and may let him develop in the AHL for another season.

It's going to be a dogfight for the basement for sure. The Chickenhawks have a bevy of young talent and the Coyotes do as well. I think the BJs awful defense is just going to cost them too many games. You can't win with Bryan Berard getting 25 minutes a game and not having good support behind him.
Nik Zherdev signed so-called "insurance contract" with "Khimik" and will play in Russia if he doesn't receive good contract offer in NHL
Side note on Khimik: only in Russia would a team be called the Chemist(s).
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